Daniel Ricciardo has made a shock switch and will drive for Renault in the 2019 F1 season, after allowing his Red Bull contract to reach its conclusion only a month after team principal Christian Horner had stated the Australian was close to signing a new contract.
The Aussie sits 5th in the World Championship standings with two race wins to his name, most recently clinching victory in the most prestigious of settings at Monaco.
Shuffling the grid
Renault driver Carlos Sainz will make way for Ricciardo next season leaving many questions around where he will be driving next season, with McLaren in pole position to land the Spaniard's signature although he remains in the frame to fill the vacancy left at Red Bull.
Red Bull’s Ricciardo replacement is yet to be clarified, however the most natural fit and favourite to clinch the seat is Toro Rosso driver, Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman has impressed with two sixth-place finishes in his first full season in the sport and would be an exciting addition to the Red Bull garage to partner Dutchman Max Verstappen.
The unexpected move will likely send shockwaves up and down the grid, causing some drivers unaware of what the future holds. Drivers concerned by this are likely to include Esteban Ocon who anticipated a move to Renault, Stoffel Vandoorne who could make way for Sainz at McLaren and Lance Stroll who in turn was rumoured to link up with Force India for the 2019 season.
Replicating past Success?
Ricciardo’s switch to Renault mirrors that of world champion Lewis Hamilton, who moved from McLaren to what was then a mid-table Mercedes. A move from one of the sport’s most elite front running teams, to the midfield.
He explained his decision as, “one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career” but expressed his excitement at joining a team on the rise and a new start.